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Naturally, I'm glad whenever RCs are given an opportunity to learn more about this subject:
The search for unity [osv.com]

However, there were a few sour notes in the piece--I found this part regarding the Filioque to be particularly disturbing:
Quote
Orthodox and Catholic scholars for 20 years now have discussed this issue and agreed that it is not church-dividing, but some Orthodox still feel that the Church in the West lacked the authority to unilaterally alter a creed that was decided upon by the consensus of an ecumenical council, and that the Western Church needs to return to using the creed as it was originally written without the Latin interpolation. Thus, Christians would all together once more process our faith in �the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father.�
Now, there are two distinct aspects of the Filioque issue, and any discussion that lumps the two together does a disservice to everyone. That's why it seems so strange to me that Dr. DeVille would misrepresent this issue by confusing the two, making the Orthodox look foolish in the process. The fact is, it is not "some Orthodox" who "still feel" that the Church in the West should not have unilaterally altered a creed that was decided upon by an ecumenical council--rather, this is *the* consensus of the Orthodox Church! The remark "some Orthodox still feel" belongs strictly to the question of whether the entire theology behind the Filioque is heretical, and would therefore have to be formally recanted before reunion can take place.

I also found it to be in bad taste for him to give so much detail in describing the letter sent to Pope Francis by two Orthodox bishops from Greece, calling its affirmations "comically absurd ... pompous and puerile." It may well have been all those things, but is it really charitable to make such statements? I think that when we're serious about seeking rapprochement, we need to diligently avoid such language.

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear what my brethren have to say about this.


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Deacon Richard

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I agree as an Orthodox Christian with the Deacon's observations. But, perhaps the audience to which Dr. DeVille was communicating had something to do with his tone?

I do agree that the actions of the two Greek bishops in question were, however, "comically absurd ... pompous and puerile." Calling a spade a spade seems appropriate in this regards. After all one of these bishops actually challenged the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Athens to a 'Holy Water' duel of some sort. All I could picture was filling water balloons and seeing whose broke first. Rather childish and it makes the Orthodox look small and silly.

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That letter from the two Orthodox bishops in Greece was rather sophomoric...that coming from me with ROCOR leanings. It was a big laundry list mainly culled from media impressions of the Roman Catholic Church. I would have drawn attention earlier to it on this forum if I had thought it would have been in any way beneficial, but it was just a megascreed from two hierarchs who are way out of their league.
There is AN opinion in Orthodoxy where the Filioque is regarded as a moot point...I knew a very erudite Russian OCA priest who thought so. I would disagree. It is not moot in that who proceeds from whom is not objectively important, I sense, but because it is rather a dead issue in the West, from a Western perspective (the West is concerned with other issues, and this is rather arcane and maybe anachronistic). It only has viability among Latin apologetic types -- who seldom grasp why the Filioque was added -- and use it as an issue with which to beat the Orthodox, which is actually sinful to do, no matter your opinion of the doctrine. I personally do not find it a dead issue, because I believe the Filioque contributed to various doctrinal and spirituality maladjustments in the West (more so in popular piety than in the magisterium), just as Orthodoxy teaches.
Honestly, back to those two Greek bishops: I have not read anything so embarrasing even in Old Calendar Greek cirlces, it is almost as though it was written by a couple of Old Calendar converts.

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In regards to the filioque, I have a question...

It's my understanding that the final say on doctrinal matters in Orthodoxy rests with the local bishop, or at least patriarch (shy of the convening of an ecumenical council), yes? So, if my patriarch has pronounced on some theological matter, but yours has not, then any attempt I may make to insist that you believe in "xyz" because my patriarch has said it is so is considered a breech of propriety, essentially. My patriarch is my final authority (again, in the absence of an ecumenical council's pronouncement on the matter) and yours is yours. There is to be no "conflating" of jurisdictions, so nothing your patriarch says or does binds me, and vice versa.

Is that a fair assessment? I have two additional questions, but don't want to get the cart before the proverbial horse, so I'll pause a bit for your replies...

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Originally Posted by DMD
I do agree that the actions of the two Greek bishops in question were, however, "comically absurd ... pompous and puerile." Calling a spade a spade seems appropriate in this regards. After all one of these bishops actually challenged the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Athens to a 'Holy Water' duel of some sort ... Rather childish and it makes the Orthodox look small and silly.
Which is exactly why it is appropriate for the Orthodox faithful to point this out and "call a spade a spade," as long as they keep it inside the "family circle" of the EOC.

For an RC who is ostensibly seeking to improve relations between the RCC and EOC, however, the same comments seem quite inappropriate. Seriously, what is an RC layperson supposed to think about the EOC as a whole after reading something like this?

(As a matter of fact, when people are trying to increase the alienation between two groups of people, one device that is often used is to point out the foibles and shortcomings of members of the "other" group. This can be very effective, because most of the audience knows little else about the "other" group.)


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Deacon Richard

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I guess, Fr Deacon Richard, the ecumenical project, as far as Eastern Orthodoxy is concerned, is always going to come up against the sort of radicalism that Dr DeVille refers to. When St John Paul II visited Greece in 2001, the media was all over it, with the BBC and AP running photos of monks holding up signs calling JP2 the Antichrist. You don't have to look too hard to run into this sort of thing, which is why I think Dr DeVille is right to bring it up--it's a factor, no matter whether we want it to be or not, in current ecumenical relations.

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Originally Posted by Mark R
There is AN opinion in Orthodoxy where the Filioque is regarded as a moot point...I knew a very erudite Russian OCA priest who thought so. I would disagree. It is not moot in that who proceeds from whom is not objectively important, I sense, but because it is rather a dead issue in the West ... It only has viability among Latin apologetic types [who] use it as an issue with which to beat the Orthodox, which is actually sinful to do, no matter your opinion of the doctrine.
IMHO the "Latin apologetic types" of whom you speak have a lot in common with the bishops who made those embarrassing comments--very devoted to the Church as they understand it, but their understanding is--for the most part--a worldly understanding, as they fail to perceive Christ as a source of reconciliation and unity, and they think they're being loyal to Him by rejecting people He does not reject.


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Deacon Richard

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Is part of the problem a nostalgia for a vanished time when "things were so much better"? You know: Holy Russia, or the Eastern Empire, or the times before Vatican II? As I reminded my pastor the other day, all the biggest heretics in the Latin Rite were formed by "the Traditional Latin Mass," so that Latin Masses are no antidote to bad theology and praxis. Likewise making the sign of the Cross 100's of times during a Divine Liturgy is no guarantee of a contrite heart. Too often critics of all stripes focus on external actions and some mythical past.

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Originally Posted by Epiphanius
Originally Posted by DMD
I do agree that the actions of the two Greek bishops in question were, however, "comically absurd ... pompous and puerile." Calling a spade a spade seems appropriate in this regards. After all one of these bishops actually challenged the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Athens to a 'Holy Water' duel of some sort ... Rather childish and it makes the Orthodox look small and silly.
Which is exactly why it is appropriate for the Orthodox faithful to point this out and "call a spade a spade," as long as they keep it inside the "family circle" of the EOC.

For an RC who is ostensibly seeking to improve relations between the RCC and EOC, however, the same comments seem quite inappropriate. Seriously, what is an RC layperson supposed to think about the EOC as a whole after reading something like this?

(As a matter of fact, when people are trying to increase the alienation between two groups of people, one device that is often used is to point out the foibles and shortcomings of members of the "other" group. This can be very effective, because most of the audience knows little else about the "other" group.)


Peace,
Deacon Richard
I'll chime in here: that sounds just right to me.

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My own view is Dr DeVille should have the freedom to make his own assessments and judgements.

He was not calling all Orthodox by the terms he used to describe the two bishops in question. Nor was he referring to Orthodox theology on this matter in that way.

When I worked for a television station, my boss wanted to get some people to do commentary on the impending visit to Canada of Pope John Paul II. He himself was Orthodox (ROCOR) but when I suggested one Orthodox commentator to be on the panel, he paused and said, "Well, maybe not as he may say something ... undignified."

Self-criticism is a good thing and while Roman Catholics have, one might say, overdone it in the last few decades, it seems to be sorely lacking in several respects within Orthodoxy.

Secondly, Dr DeVille knows, as I know he does, very many Orthodox theologians with whom he corresponds regularly. His reference to "some" of them was NOT a reference to what the Orthodox Church's official affirmation in this respect is, but to the Orthodox theologians who express their private opinions. Certainly, such private opinions have no bearing on what their Church teaches. But he made the distinction between between Church and theologians.

Orthodox theologians engaged in the debate with the Oriental Churches, for example, all agreed that there is no longer any disagreement here on Christology. That certainly doesn't mean the rift between the two families of Orthodox Churches doesn't continue.

Dr DeVille knows what he's talking about and as an academic, he is certainly entitled, as are all academics, to their freedom of expression and analysis.

Dr Roman


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